The Illinois Republican Party is one of the political organizations that received donations from a Florida businessman with ties to President Donald Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani and the Ukraine investigation who was charged Thursday with federal campaign finance violations.
But the party late Thursday in an email told the Sun-Times no one with the political party has ever met the two men and the contribution will be donated to a charity.
Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, associates of Giuliani, were arrested Wednesday night trying to flee the country with one-way tickets at Dulles International Airport in Virginia, according to Geoffrey Berman, the U.S. attorney in Manhattan. The charges stem from a $325,000 donation to a group supporting Trump’s reelection. Records show both used wire transfers from a corporate entity to make the contribution to the America First Action committee in 2018.
Prosecutors allege that Parnas and Fruman conspired to make illegal contributions in an effort to skirt the limit on federal campaign contributions. The men are also accused of making contributions to candidates for state and federal office, joint fundraising committees and independent expenditure committees in the names of other people.
The political donations were made “for the purpose of gaining influence with politicians, so as to advance their own personal financial interests and the political interests of Ukrainian government officials, including at least one Ukrainian government official with whom they were working,” the indictment charges.
Federal campaign finance records show the Illinois Republican Party received $661.90 from Parnas on Oct. 24, 2016 — the same amount he gave to several other groups that day, including the Republican parties of Virginia, Wisconsin, Alabama, Mississippi, and West Virginia, among others. Parnas began contributing to political organizations in 2016.
Prosecutors charge that the two men falsely claimed the contributions came from GEP, which was described as a liquefied natural gas business. At that point, the company had no income or significant assets, according to the indictment.
Parnas and Fruman were arrested on a four-count indictment that includes charges of conspiracy, making false statements to the Federal Election Commission and falsification of records. The men had key roles in Giuliani’s efforts to launch a Ukrainian corruption investigation against Democratic presidential contender Joe Biden and his son Hunter.
The Illinois Republican Party late Thursday in an email said, “No one who works for or is associated with the ILGOP has ever met either of these two men.”
“It appears the contribution was received via a joint fundraising committee to which the Illinois Republican Party is a party,” Illinois Republican Party Chairman Tim Schneider said. “The Illinois Republican Party is party to a number of joint fundraising committees, including Take Back The House. In light of these circumstances, we will be donating $661 to a charity.”